Dow Chemical invests in university talent and technology
In an effort to strengthen disciplines that align with its strategic goals, Dow Chemical Company has invested $14.5 million over five years in research at UW-Madison. Part of a broader funding program Dow launched in 2011 at 11 universities, the initiative combines expertise in engineering and chemistry in a quest for innovative, sustainable solutions in such areas as chemical production and energy generation and storage.
The company’s motivation to support university partners is driven by its interest in helping those institutions stay strong in disciplines important to Dow. Based in part on the strength of the UW-Madison chemistry and chemical engineering programs, the company established its partnership with the university in late 2011. “It’s about technology and talent,” says Lou Graziano, director of university R&D strategy for Dow Sustainable Technologies & Innovation Sourcing.
On the university side, bright, motivated undergraduates conduct research alongside graduate students. Through the partnership, they gain experience interacting with an industrial partner and potential employer.
Several UW-Madison faculty teams are collaborating on research with Dow scientists, who invest at least a quarter of their time in projects that include studying new materials and new methods for coating battery components; using catalysis to convert natural gas-derived raw materials into higher-value chemicals; investigating catalytic systems for green chemical production; developing novel membrane reactors for safer, more controllable reaction conditions; and improving solar power generation through advanced collectors, thermal storage and system design. “We’d love to see some innovative solutions and IP that have commercial relevance for us,” says Graziano. “But our primary goal is to build a sustained, mutually beneficial relationship with Wisconsin through collaboration in the disciplines that are essential to continued success.”